Citing the controversial Rafale fighter jets deal, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday alleged that corruption has peaked under Prime Minister Narendra Modi and said the country was passing through “extremely challenging times” with farmers suffering distress, youth facing acute joblessness and the common man suffering from rising prices and tax terrorism.
Addressing a press conference here in poll-bound Madhya Pradesh, he attacked Modi over demonetisation, describing it as a “monumental failure of epic proportions” and said the junking of high currency notes in 2016 “was only a dubious scheme to convert black money to white”.
Singh said people should fight against the “onslaught on institutions” by the Modi government or else history “will not forgive us.”
“In the last few months, we have witnessed how the credibility of our institutions has been systematically denigrated. A careful, well-thought out and a calibrated effort is being made by the powers that be to weaken them. Democracy and rule of law are under attack. We have to fight this onslaught on our institutions, otherwise history shall never forgive us.”
He said the Modi government came to power on the promise to usher in transparency and fight against corruption and only a few months are left for its term to end.
“But we have only witnessed corruption peaking under PM Modi. The acts of omission and commission in Rafale deal need thorough investigation by a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC),” he said.
Seeking a change in the state in the November 28 Assembly polls, Singh also made several attacks on the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government saying that Madhya Pradesh witnesses a farmer suicide every five hours and the state has seen the maximum number of suicides due to unemployment.
Attacking the Modi government, he said “national security is imperilled, women were unsafe and marginalised and weaker sections were facing persecution”.
“Our nation is going through extremely challenging times since the last four and a half years. Farmers’ distress is all pervading and the youth are suffering from acute joblessness. The common man is suffering from rising prices, notably prices of petrol, diesel and cooking gas,” he said.
The Congress leader said “unwitting and ill-conceived decisions of demonetisation and a “flawed GST, coupled with tax terrorism, have dealt a body blow to both organised and unorganised sectors”
He said small, medium and micro enterprises were reeling under the adverse and painful effects of the double whammy of demonetisation and the Goods and Services Tax.
He accused the Modi government of building “a false narrative a day to justify the demonetisation disaster”.
“The plain truth and stark reality is that demonetisation is a monumental failure of epic proportions. None of the stated objectives of demonetisation has been achieved. Neither was the three lakh crore rupees of black money confiscated as claimed before the Supreme Court on November 10, 2016 nor was fake currency checked. Stated objectives of ending terrorism and Naxalism have totally floundered,” he said.
Singh said demonetisation “was a deliberate and designed attack” on the savings of small and medium businesses, farmers and housewives even as over 120 poor people lost their lives in the bank queues and a parallel market to convert old notes into new notes flourished under the watch of the Modi Government.
He said Modi had failed to fulfil his promises on black money, depositing Rs 15 lakh in the account of every Indian and creating two crore jobs per annum.
Singh said Labour Bureau data shows that only a few thousand jobs were created or added every quarter and the promise of “achhe din” had proved hollow.
“Why has the Labour Bureau Survey for October-December 2017 not been released?” he asked.
He said that 2,81,000 youth with MBA/LLB/BE/PhD degrees applied for 738 peon posts in February this year in Madhya Pradesh and the state could create only about 17,600 jobs every year.
“Maximum number of people in India, who ended their life due to unemployment, belong to BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh. Between 2005 and 2015, there has been a 2000 per cent increase in suicide cases in Madhya Pradesh due to unemployment.”
He also attacked the Chouhan government over the “Vyapam scam, e-tender scam, onion purchase scam, dal purchase scam, agriculture pump subsidy scam’ and said proper investigation and accountability are the first casualties in Madhya Pradesh.
Singh said farmers were in great pain all over India, including Madhya Pradesh, “which has a very high incidence of farmer suicides.”
“Between 2004 and 2016, Madhya Pradesh saw nearly 17,000 farmer suicides,” he said adding that AK-47 was used against farmers in Raisen.
Singh said the promise of minimum support price was another “jumla”.
Singh said the number of farmers covered by crop insurance has gone up only by 0.42 percent but premiums paid to insurance companies have increased by 350 percent.
“Of the nearly 69 lakh farmers enrolled with PMFBY (Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana) in the state, only 16 lakh benefitted.”